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“We’re getting anxious,” Bryan Health nurses urge community to remain vigilant

Published: Mar. 31, 2021 at 5:03 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Between vaccinations and lower COVID-19 hospitalizations, there’s a big difference between where hospitals are at now and what nurses and doctors were experiencing in the last months of 2020.

“The amount of deaths we witnessed, we had nurses that were clinically depressed and struggling with anxiety,” Leah Harrington, assistant nurse manager of the Bryan Health COVID1-19 unit said.

With nurses serving roles they had never had to fill before.

“We had nurses holding hands, doing that critical communication, being a family member. It’s taxing,” Courtney Thies, assistant nurse manager for Bryan Health’s respiratory therapy department said.

It’s a night and day difference to what they are experiencing now. There are 15 COVID-19 patients at Bryan Health, three of which are no longer testing positive for the virus. Their peak was in November with 160 COVID-19 patients admitted to the hospital.

“There’s a sigh of relief that we can kind of relax a little bit and not feel as stressed,” Thies said.

But in the last few days, both of the hospital’s special isolation rooms filled up and the state saw a slight uptick in hospitalizations. There were 116 patients hospitalized Wednesday, compared to 102 Monday.

“We’re getting anxious to be honest,” Harrington said. “I know everyone has different opinions but keep getting your vaccines. We’re nervous we’ll be forced back to where we were before.”

So even though restrictions are reduced and cases are lower, these nurses are asking community members not to give up on precautions.

“Continue to stay safe and aware of your surroundings and what you’re doing,” Thies said. “There’s a way we can get back to normal safely and that’s what I think people are craving, that sense of normalcy.”

The nurses said this not just for their own wellbeing, but for that of the community.

“We’re always taking care of sick patients, but the severity of some of these COVID-19 patients, they were the sickest I’ve seen in 25 years,” Thies said. “People don’t have to suffer, nobody should suffer that way.

Bryan Health has treated more than 1,900 COVID-19 patients. Two hundred of their patients died from the virus. Across Lancaster County 227 Lancaster County residents have died from the virus since the beginning of the pandemic.

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